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New York Launches Inter-Agency Fire Safety Working Group for Enhanced Energy Storage Security

by Anna

Governor Kathy Hochul of New York has announced the establishment of an Inter-Agency Fire Safety Working Group dedicated to ensuring the safety and security of energy storage systems throughout the state. This initiative follows a series of fire incidents at energy facilities in Jefferson, Orange, and Suffolk Counties during the summer.

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The state will undertake immediate inspections of energy storage sites, and the working group’s primary objective is to avert fire incidents, equip emergency responders with necessary training and information, and prepare for resource deployment in case of fires.

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Governor Hochul stated, “In response to multiple fire safety incidents across New York, I’ve directed state agencies to promptly establish the Inter-Agency Fire Safety Working Group to mobilize personnel and resources for the safety of New Yorkers. The Working Group will collaborate with first responders and local leaders to identify best practices, mitigate potential safety risks, and ensure the safety and efficacy of energy storage sites across the state.”

Several significant fires occurred at New York energy facilities over the summer. A fire engulfed an energy storage system in Warwick for multiple days in June, a battery fire at a solar farm in Jefferson County raised concerns about air contamination in July, and an energy storage system at an East Hampton substation caught fire in July.

In 2019, New York state committed to adding 3,000MW of energy storage by 2030 as part of its broader energy and climate goals outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

While fires at energy storage facilities are uncommon, Governor Hochul has tasked various state agencies to lead the working group, including the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Fire Prevention and Control, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Public Service, and the Department of State. This collective effort will independently investigate energy storage facility fires and safety standards. National laboratories and experts specializing in energy storage root cause and emergency response analysis will be engaged to assess and identify common causes, air monitoring outcomes, community impacts, and other factors related to energy storage fires.

The working group’s scope encompasses reviewing recent energy storage fires in New York and conducting a comprehensive fire safety analysis, including emergency response evaluations, of energy storage projects that experienced thermal runaway events in the state. The findings will culminate in recommendations for stationary energy storage equipment and installations. The review will include an assessment of battery conditions to ensure operation within design parameters, addressing any identified deficiencies, confirming on-site fire suppression operations, and coordinating fire suppression strategies with local fire departments, among other best practices.

Furthermore, the conclusions and recommendations derived from the working group’s efforts will be shared with entities such as the New York City Fire Department, National Fire Protection Association, International Code Council, the New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council, and Underwriters Laboratories. This commitment positions New York as a frontrunner in national and international fire safety standards for stationary energy storage systems.

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